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Soldiers get to learn more about South China Sea row

/ 05:35 AM August 20, 2018

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is preparing to better defend the country’s maritime territory by schooling its troops on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and other naval laws.

The Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) and the Western Command (Wescom) — the units charged with securing the West Philippine Sea — were given capacity-building training on the Unclos and maritime security at Camp Gen. Artemio Ricarte, Puerto Princesa City.

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The Nolcom secures Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, the Philippine (Benham) Rise and the Batanes Group of Islands while the Wescom provides security coverage for the Kalayaan Group of Islands (the Spratlys), which includes: Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, Rizal (Commodore) Reef, Parola (Northeast Cay) Island, Lawak (Nanshan) Island, Kota (Loaita) Island, Patag (Flat) Island, Panata (Lankiam Cay) Island and Balagtas (Irving) Reef.

Maritime laws

The three-day training, held from Aug. 13 to 15, provided basic understanding of the Unclos and maritime laws to raise strategic awareness on how military commanders and staff develop operational plans in securing the country’s territorial waters.

Organized by the National Coast Watch Council, which is under the Office of the President, AFP personnel were schooled on the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to the use of the world’s oceans, particularly in managing marine resources.

Law of the sea

“Participants were made to understand this internationally accepted law of the sea, which may affect the naval and maritime law enforcement operation being conducted by both Nolcom and Wescom units within the bounds of the different maritime zones,” said Nolcom spokesperson Lt. Col. Isagani Nato.

The Nolcom also conducted a two-day maritime domain awareness seminar for members of Area Task Force-North (ATF-North) members-agencies, including the Philippine National Police maritime group, the Philippine Coast Guard’s northwestern Luzon district, the National Coast Watch Center and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

According to ATF-North commander Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, the seminar was intended “to raise maritime domain awareness and have a common understanding on the roles of the different concerned government agencies and entities comprising the ATF-North.”

Salamat pointed out that a national effort in raising public awareness on the West Philippine Sea was paramount to be able to take appropriate action and address issues pertaining to the disputed marine territory.

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TAGS: AFP, capacity-building training, Maritime Dispute, naval laws, Northern Luzon Command, South China Sea, Unclos, West Philippine Sea, western command
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